I Saw Santa

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Last night I saw Santa Claus, and at the most unusual place – a gas station.

He was just  a regular guy. He wasn’t dressed as Santa, but he had snow white hair and a long white beard. He wore blue jeans, a red zip-up sweatshirt and work boots. But that didn’t sway me – he was Santa Claus.

At first, I grinned in amusement, until I realized the hair and beard were real. I wasn’t alone, everyone stared at him, exchanging smiles with this white-bearded man in the red shirt. One woman even asked if she could take his picture, and he said yes, needing no explanation why she wanted to do so.

He was holding  a gallon of milk and standing in front of me. There were two rows of customers waiting to check out and he was the main focus of their attention.

Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who thought he looked like Santa Claus, because  I head someone say, “Hi, Santa!” It didn’t matter that he wasn’t wearing a fur-trimmed suit and black boots. We all apparently wanted to believe.

He looked so real. So much so, that when a little girl walked in clutching her mother’s hand, she stopped and stared in awe. Her round eyes got so big and she gasped out loud. Jumping up and down, she said, “Look Mommy! It’s Santa Claus! It’s Santa Claus!”

Her mom simply smiled.

Amid the smiles and stares, Santa moved up to the counter and paid for his milk, stopping long enough to indulge the cashier who took out his cell phone and took a picture. He turned to leave, then turned back around, walking straight to the little girl. All eyes were on him and there was a sense of magic in the air as we all listened.

“Well, hello. I was hoping to see you. You’ve been a very good girl this year,” he said. Her face lit up like a thousand Christmas lights. She believed.

He patted her on the head and said, “Merry Christmas!” but before he could walk away, the little girl rushed forward and put her arms around his legs, hugging him for bringing her joy, for being so magical and wonderful–for being Santa.

He went out of his way to play the part, just to bring joy to a little girl. As he left, people stopped him, now feeling free to approach this white-bearded man who had the power to bring  wonder and the magic of Christmas into their day and their life. A few took his picture, a teenager asked if she could touch his beard, and giggled while she gently did so. There were waves and cheers of Bye, Santa! Merry Christmas, Santa! and one mother who offered a dazed, but heartfelt, Thank you, Santa.

It was enough to bring tears to eyes and smiles to faces. Tired strangers became smiling friends, commenting on how real he looked and how they couldn’t wait to tell their family. “Who was that guy, does anyone know?” asked one person. The little girl replied with glee, “That was Santa Claus!”

One bearded man in a red shirt brought joy into our lives. He did nothing, but he did everything, returning the lost Christmas spirit and sense of joy into our lives that only someone as magical as Santa can do. Instantly transforming people just by being there, he lightened and warmed our hearts, spreading holiday cheer and magic to those who saw him. 

I saw Santa Claus. He is real. He wears blue jeans, a red zip-up sweatshirt, and he drives a pickup truck. He buys milk from a gas station in Kankakee, Illinois. And I won’t ever forget him.

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